Cureton - Reality check was needed
Michael Bailey Jamie Cureton believes dropping into the relegation zone could be the spark Norwich City need to ignite their Championship recovery. Despite not playing since Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Preston there have been plenty of dark clouds surrounding the club this week, with City's relegation rivals Watford and Barnsley both winning the first of their games in hand to drop Norwich in the bottom three.
Jamie Cureton believes dropping into the relegation zone could be the spark Norwich City need to ignite their Championship recovery.
Despite not playing since Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Preston there have been plenty of dark clouds surrounding the club this week, with City's relegation rivals Watford and Barnsley both winning the first of their games in hand to drop Norwich in the bottom three.
Manager Bryan Gunn held a meeting with his first team players on Tuesday evening to spell out their plight and with play-off chasing Burnley due at Carrow Road tomorrow, Cureton admitted any previous false sense of security at the club has been blown out of the water.
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“I think it's a bit of a reality check, going into the bottom three,” said Cureton. “Maybe we thought before that we were going to be okay and everything was going to be fine.
“All of a sudden now, it might be a little kick we've needed, that shock to the system and 'hold on a minute, our futures are on the line'.
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“We don't want to be playing in League One next year. I dropped out when I went down before with the club in the Premier League, and I've never been back since. You never know, your careers can take big turns on things like this and the boys need to realise that, and go out and make sure it doesn't happen.”
City's ever-present goalkeeper this season, David Marshall, also insisted it is up to the Canaries to dig themselves out of trouble.
“Our results haven't been good enough and that's why we're there. It's nothing to do with anyone else. We just have to get enough points to stay up. If we don't, we'll not deserve it,” said Marshall, well aware Carrow Road is likely to be a nervous place tomorrow.
“Possibly the fans will be on edge if we don't start well, we know that. But it's been our fault, the players' fault for however long we've been in a bad position.
“It's the first time we've been in the bottom three, there is going to be an extra edge in the game, but we knew how big the game was anyway. There are still some clubs with games in hand, so we need to win the majority of our last 13 games.
“People need wins and need to go for it - certainly in the last six or seven games there will be a lot of pressure involved. I wish we weren't down the bottom but that's the position we're in and we have to deal with it.”
One consequence of their slide to 22nd in the table according to Cureton, is a growing sense of togetherness in the Norwich squad.
“You look at it and it starts to look very bad; people have got families, kids, their careers and things like this aren't healthy, so you tend to chat about it more and pull together a bit more, and say 'look, I need you at the moment' - and it's the opposite way round, you need them,” said the 33-year-old. “We need to get out of the situation because, come the summer if things go badly, it's not going to be a pleasant summer and it's not going to be pleasant coming back here next year. So we really have to focus on that and make sure it doesn't happen.”
It can be easy to forget all is not lost; Cureton has already tasted success against Burnley this season and wants a similar result come tomorrow evening.
“They are a tough team, but they're not unbeatable,” he said. “I played against them for Barnsley up there and we beat them. They are a good side but, especially at our home ground, we shouldn't be wary of anyone and we should be beating team.
“Maybe we're a bit more nervous than we could be because of where we are, but our drive has to be getting out of that bottom three and whether it's Reading, Birmingham or whoever we're playing, that is our aim and we have to go out and believe that, be positive and beat whoever's been put in front of us.
“There are no excuses now, we have to go out and perform and we're more than capable of doing that. But it's easy to say that standing here. The 11 picked have to go out and do that.”
Cureton, speaking before a player appearance at Pilch sports store in the city centre, added: “I've got a hell of a lot of friends here and I get moaned at all the time by them, so I know what it means to the whole place.
“Maybe people that haven't been here that long or are not used to what goes on here don't, but the closer you get to the fans, and when you do things like this signing, they say their little bits - not horribly, but in nice ways - and they let you know how much it hurts them.”
Thirteen games, six of them at Carrow Road, for Norwich City to preserve their proud record of almost 50 years in English football's top two divisions; this is crunch time.
“Yes, definitely,” said Cureton. “As soon as you drop into the bottom three it is, whatever stage of the season, but with 13 games to go we're now in it.
“If we perform like we are at the minute and results keeping going the same, then we'll go down. So people have to realise that and say, right, we need to start pulling our finger out and winning football matches.
“If we finish fourth from bottom, at the end of the day that would be a success now, I think everyone would take that. So as bad as it sounds, that is what we're aiming for.
“We have to make sure we finish out of the bottom three, wherever that may be. That's the bottom line.”